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Minerals 2014, 4(3), 642-666; doi:10.3390/min4030642

Submarine Tailings Disposal (STD)—A Review

SUMIRCO (Sustainable Mining Research & Consult EIRL), Casilla 28, San Pedro de la Paz 4130000, Chile
Received: 26 February 2014 / Revised: 24 May 2014 / Accepted: 9 June 2014 / Published: 8 July 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mine Waste Characterization, Management and Remediation)
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The mining industry is a fundamental industry involved in the development of modern society, but is also the world’s largest waste producer. This role will be enhanced in the future, because ore grades are generally decreasing, thus leading to increases in the waste/metal production ratio. Mine wastes deposited on-land in so-called tailings dams, impoundments or waste-dumps have several associated environmental issues that need to be addressed (e.g., acid mine drainage formation due to sulphide oxidation, geotechnical stability, among others), and social concerns due to land use during mining. The mining industry recognizes these concerns and is searching for waste management alternatives for the future. One option used in the past was the marine shore or shallow submarine deposition of this waste material in some parts of the world. After the occurrence of some severe environmental pollution, today the deposition in the deep sea (under constant reducing conditions) is seen as a new, more secure option, due to the general thought that sulphide minerals are geochemically stable under the reduced conditions prevailing in the deep marine environment. This review highlights the mineralogical and geochemical issues (e.g., solubility of sulphides in seawater; reductive dissolution of oxide minerals under reducing conditions), which have to be considered when evaluating whether submarine tailings disposal is a suitable alternative for mine waste. View Full-Text
Keywords: tailings; acid mine drainage; waste management; marine pollution; solubility; reductive dissolution; sulphide; iron oxide; oceanography; ore deposit tailings; acid mine drainage; waste management; marine pollution; solubility; reductive dissolution; sulphide; iron oxide; oceanography; ore deposit

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0).

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Dold, B. Submarine Tailings Disposal (STD)—A Review. Minerals 2014, 4, 642-666.

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